I had an awesome Mother’s Day sitting in my porch swing talking to my youngest daughter for about three hours in the morning and then meeting up with my youngest son and my oldest daughter and grandkids for a picnic at the lake that afternoon. We had a great day of fresh air, sunshine, laughter and stories.
At the end of the day, I was extremely happy, but terribly exhausted. I also had a horrible case of sunburn on my face, which looked as red and tight as a juicy, ripe tomato. Plus, it was painful! I felt feverish and just plain “blah.” And you know what? Several days later, my nose peeled! I don’t remember peeling from sunburn since I was about 12 years old. Remember those old Coppertone billboards - the one with the little girl on the beach with her dog? Those were promoting suntan oil/lotion, not sunscreen. And as a kid at the beach, I remember many summers where my shoulders would literally blister and then those blisters would ooze and pop. It’s horrifying to think about that now!
I’ve been much more careful in my adult years about applying sunscreen. I’m not sure what happened on Mother’s Day except maybe I just didn’t realize how fragile my winter skin was or how strong the sun was on that particular day. We’ve had so much rain this spring that it was glorious to spend the day in the sun. But, I felt totally convicted when I read an article a few days later stating that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. This was like a kick in the pants!
According to the article, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, even though this lifestyle disease is highly preventable. What preventive measures can we take? Seek the shade during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest; don’t burn in the first place since a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he has five sunburns at any point in life; avoid tanning beds since UV radiation from tanning machines is known to cause cancer and the more you tan indoors, the higher the risk; cover up with clothing, which can be your most effective form of sun protection - the more skin you cover, the better; use UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 every day, higher for extended outdoor activity and remember to reapply if swimming or sweating; and last but not least, examine your skin periodically to check for suspicious moles.
Sunburn looks bad, hurts, peels and inflicts wrinkle-inducing damage, which I certainly don’t need at my age! But mistakes happen, just as it did to me on Mother’s Day! The best defense once this happens? Get out of the sun! Sunburn tends to sneak up on us and can take a few hours for symptoms to develop - a touch of pink now may turn into a big problem later. Slather on a moisturizing lotion to soothe the skin after a cool shower. Drink extra fluids and take ibuprofen for a couple of days. Lastly, vow to do better and be more careful.